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School Board Members: Revise Tax Code 

Mandate relief trumps state aid

With the Legislature poised to enact changes to the state’s tax code in order to raise more revenue for the ailing state budget, school board members overwhelmingly support these efforts if it means an end to payment delays and state aid cuts, according to a recent poll from the New York State School Boards Association.

But in their haste to make changes to the tax code, lawmakers must not lose sight of the one single issue that means even more to school boards: mandate relief.  Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of school board members responding to NYSSBA’s informal online poll said mandate relief was a greater priority than state aid.

The poll also found:

• 70 percent of the 400 respondents believe lawmakers should not allow the state’s income tax surcharge on New Yorkers earning $200,000 or more to expire at the end of this year.

• 65 percent believe state lawmakers should increase regular income tax rates on wealthy New Yorkers if it allows more state aid to flow to schools.

“We hope restructuring the tax code will help the state meet its financial obligation to schools,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “But we also need Albany to tackle the mandates that continue to drive up costs for local governments and burden taxpayers across the state.”

He added: “Reforming the tax code without addressing mandate relief would be like gift-wrapping empty boxes for Christmas.”